Title:
Folding Device for Rolling Up Sleeping Bags, Self-Inflating Pads, Airbeds, Foam Mats, Bed Covers, and Other Bedrolls
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A rigid frame-shape folding device for rolling up sleeping bags, self-inflating sleeping pads, airbeds, flexible foam mats, bed covers, other similar beddings, is described that consists of a rectangular or oblong construction, with adequate opening for the thickness-wise insertion of the short end of the bedrolls. The rigid frame device is made from tubular materials and is sufficiently strong to withstand the force applied during the folding process. The folding device consists of two curved tubular members with “male” and “female” interlocking means. Also shown is an adjustable rigid frame folding device for bedrolls of different sizes that comprises of four interlocking tubular members. When using this folding device, the bedroll is first inserted into the middle open space, between and parallel to the two longer sides of the frame device. The shorter sides of the frame are gripped and turned to compress the roll. After compressing and securing the roll, the device may remain embedded since it is light in weight and occupies little space. The exposed end may also serve as a handle for transporting the bundle. The device may also be easily extracted from the folded bedroll by first disengaging the tubular members.



Inventors:
Huang, Andrew B. (Rancho P. V., CA, US)
Application Number:
12/545630
Publication Date:
02/11/2010
Filing Date:
08/21/2009
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47C31/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
CUOMO, PETER M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
ANDREW B. HUANG (RANCHO P.V, CA, US)
Claims:
I claim:

1. A rigid frame-shape folding device for rolling up sleeping bags, or self-inflating sleeping pads, or airbeds, or flexible exercise mats, or flexible sleeping mats, or bed covers, or other similar bedrolls comprising: two rigid, elongate and curved, tubular members of significant strength, and of adequate dimensions, when connected together form an enclosed sizeable aperture space that allows the thickness-wise and widthwise insertion of said bedrolls; and, said tubular members have “bell” shape and straight ends as means of mating the said members.

2. A rigid frame-shape folding device as in claim 1 wherein said two tubular members are secured together by a quick release locking means.

3. A rigid frame-shape folding device as in claim 2 wherein said quick release locking means is a spring loaded pin and hole mechanism.

4. A rigid telescoping adjustable frame-shape folding device for rolling up sleeping bags, or self-inflating sleeping pads, or airbeds, or flexible exercise mats, or flexible sleeping mats, or bed covers, or other similar bedrolls comprising: two rigid, curved tubular members of longer and shorter lengths and both with identical curvatures comparable to the thickness-wise dimension of said bedroll; and, two identical, rigid, elongate tubular members of inside diameter sufficiently large enough for the insertions of said longer curved member; and, two quick release locking means for securing said longer curved member to said two identical elongate tubular members, thus forming an expandable curved member adjustable to the lengths of any bedrolls; and, a quick release locking means for securing said shorter curved member to said expandable curved member.

5. A rigid telescoping adjustable frame-shape folding device as in claim 4 wherein said two quick release locking means for the lengthening of said longer curved member are two spring loaded pin and hole mechanisms.

6. A rigid telescoping adjustable frame-shape folding device as in claim 4 wherein said two quick release locking means for the lengthening of said longer curved member are two twist lock mechanisms.

7. A rigid telescoping adjustable frame-shape folding device as in claim 5 wherein said quick release locking means for said shorter curved member is a spring loaded pin and hole mechanism.

8. A rigid telescoping adjustable frame-shape folding device as in claim 6 wherein said quick release locking means for said shorter curved member is a spring loaded pin and hole mechanism.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application is a Continuation in Part for application Ser. No. 11/831,376

STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED REASEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT

Not Applicable

REFERENCE TO SEQUENCE LISTING, A TABLE, OR A COMPUTOR PROGRAM LISTING COMPACT DISC APPENDIX

Not Applicable

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The present invention generally relates to a folding device of significant dimensions and strength for the rolling up of sleeping bags, self-inflating sleeping pads, airbeds, flexible exercise mats, flexible sleeping mats, bed covers, and other similar bedrolls. More particularly to a folding device having a rigid frame-like construction of size to allow the widthwise insertion of a sleeping bag, or self-inflating sleeping pad, or airbed, or flexible exercise mat, or flexible sleeping mat, or bed cover, or other similar beddings, and or the like into the enclosed aperture space; and of sufficient strength when turned along the longitudinal axis would facilitate the compressing of the sleeping bag, or pad, or airbed, or mat, or bed cover, or other similar beddings, and or the like into a tight roll.

Typically sleeping bags, pads, airbeds, mats, bed covers, and other similar beddings are purchased in a tightly compact roll. Once opened from the original package, it is very difficult to fold them back to their former shapes. This difficulty stems from the inability of most hands to grasp evenly and firmly across the width of the soft sleeping bag, or pad, or airbed, or mat, or bed cover, or other similar beddings, and or the like. This inability often causes the rolling up process to produce a loose bundle which is unwieldy to carry and tends to come apart. To achieve a tight roll requires considerable strength, time and effort; and, is particularly difficult for children because they often lack the strength, grasp and patience required.

Specific attempts to solve the above-identified problem for sleeping bags and the like were proposed in numerous inventions. U.S. Pat. No. 3,533,572 entitle, “Mandrel for Rolling Bedding” granted to Rowell W. Sims on Oct. 13, 1970 discloses a pair of elongated slender rods which are placed widthwise over and under bedding and fastened together at corresponding ends securing the thickness of the bedding between the rods to form a clamping mandrel on which to roll the bedding. The described mandrel is constructed of two separate and identical hardwood rods each of which includes a pin protruding from one end and a length of flexible anchoring material such as string or chain attached at the other end. The hardwood rods are disposed in parallel spaced-apart configuration with the thickness of the bedding between the rods and are fastened together at corresponding ends by tying or wrapping the anchoring material about the protruding pins to secure the thickness of the bedding between the rods and provide rigidity across the width of the bedding. Due to the flexible anchoring materials at the ends of the rods, this device requires both a firm grasping and a turning motion to be applied simultaneously when compressing the bedroll. In addition, the hands have to periodically release the grip and reposition to advance the rolling-up process. These multiple-step motions make this mandrel difficult to use in general. And particularly it is very difficult to use for children and people with limited hand and grip strengths.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,973,009 entitle, “Key for Rolling Sleeping Bags” granted to M. Lynn Dunlap on Nov. 27, 1990 discloses a pair of tubular plastic rods which are pivotally attached at one end. One of the rods is pivotally displaced to a position parallel to and spaced from the other rod. Together the rods form an open ended fork or key. A metal hook inserted through holes in the free ends of the rods fastens the free ends together and clamps a sleeping bag securely between the rods. A handle is attached to the end of the non-pivotable rod. In use, the key device is first clamped in place. The handle is then turned to advance the rolling up of the sleeping bag. In practice, since the handle is attached at only one end of the device, the sleeping bag would tend to roll up crooked. Furthermore, with only one handle, this key device does not fully utilize the strength of both hands. Thus, this invention is likewise difficult to use in general. And particularly it is very difficult to use for children and people with limited strength.

In Canter et al., U.S. Pat. No. 5,184,361, a storage apparatus is described for “furling” or “curling” sleeping bags. This storage apparatus consists of a rigid tubular member, an elastomeric strap and accessories used for storage. To curl the sleeping bag, the bag is first inserted between the rigid tubular member and the elastomeric strap. The elastomeric strap is intended for positioning the sleeping bag on top of the tubular member, prior to curling. Because it is elastic, the strap is not meant to provide a means of simultaneous folding and compressing the sleeping bag. Once in place, the sleeping bag is curled by rolling the bag over the “storage apparatus”. Since no direct pressure is applied by Canter's storage apparatus onto the sleeping bag, the end result would be a loosely furled roll.

None of the above or other exiting inventions teach the embodiments of the present invention or provide the benefits disclosed below.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

A folding device for rolling up sleeping bags, or self-inflating sleeping pads, or airbeds, or flexible exercise mats, or flexible sleeping mats, or bed covers, or other similar beddings, and or the like constructed according to the principles of the present invention comprises a rigid frame-like structured unit. This frame-like folding device can be rectangular or oblong in shape. The embodied invention may be formed from a single piece of rod, pipe or strip-like material or other suitable materials. It may also be constructed from an assortment of properly formed joinable and detachable rods, pipes or strip members of any suitable, light-weight, stiff and strong materials.

The frame-like folding device is shaped to provide an adequate enclosed opening of sufficient dimensions for the widthwise and thickness-wise insertion of the sleeping bag, or self-inflating pad, or airbed, or flexible foam mat, or bed cover, or similar bedding, or the like to be rolled. It is also fabricated from materials with sufficient rigidity to allow adequate force to be applied to advance the rolling up process.

When the frame-structured device is manufactured from a single piece of rod, pipe or strip-like material or other suitable materials, it can be heat pressed or stamped into the desired frame shape. When the folding device is formed from an assortment of fabricated attachable and detachable rod, pipe or strip-like members, numerous embodiments are possible. One such embodiment consists of two equal or unequal “U” shaped members mated together to constitute the rigid frame-like construction. Another embodiment with multiple members consists of two significantly elongated straight rods, tubes or strips or other suitable materials as the longer sides with two shorter joinable side members joined together to constitute the rigid frame-like construction.

When using this folding device, the widthwise end of the sleeping bag, or pad, or airbed, or mat, or bed cover, or bedding or the like is first inserted into the middle open space between and parallel to the two longer sides of the rigid frame-like construction. The shorter sides of the frame construction are then gripped, pressed down and turned to tightly compress the sleeping bag, pad, airbed, mat, bed cover, bedding or the like into a compact roll. With the first turn of the folding device, the enclosed bed roll becomes automatically clamped in place.

After rolling up the sleeping bags or the like, the folding device may be left embedded within the secured roll since it takes up little space. If left in place, it may further serve as a carrying handle for transporting the folded roll. Only available for embodiments of the frame-like structure comprise of multiple joinable and detachable members, another option is that after folding and securing the roll, the attached grip-able side member may be disengaged. The remaining portions of the frame-like construction are then extracted by pulling the pieces out from the secured roll.

Specifically for sleeping bags or the like, such as high tech “mummy” bags that require long-term storage in an uncompressed state, when a hook-like member is attached to the frame-like device and the unit is used horizontally, the invention may also double as a hanger for such long-term storage.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWING

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the folding device constructed from a single formed piece of rod, pipe, strip-like material or other suitable materials in accordance with the principles of the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the folding device constructed from two formed joinable and detachable pieces of rod, pipe, strip-like material or other suitable materials in accordance with the principles of the present invention.

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the folding device constructed from four formed joinable and detachable pieces of rod, pipe, strip-like material or other suitable materials in accordance with the principles of the present invention.

FIG. 4 is a perspective view illustrating the folding device of FIGS. 1, 2 and 3 with the end of a sleeping bag, or pad, or airbed, or mat, or bed cover, or bedding or the like, inserted into the middle open space between and parallel to the two longer sides of the rigid frame-like construction, prior to folding it up.

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of a rolled up sleeping bag, or pad, or airbed, or mat, or bed cover, or bedding or the like after using the folding device of FIGS. 1, 2 and 3, and being secured in the compressed state.

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of a secured roll with the folding device constructed of multiple members of FIGS. 2 and 3; the frame members are disengaged and extracted from the roll of FIG. 5.

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of the folding device with an attachable hook-like member and the unit used as a hanger in accordance with the principles of the present invention.

FIG. 8 is a perspective view of the folding device of FIG. 7 used horizontally as a hanger for a “mummy” bag, or similar bedding or the like that requires long term-storage in a relaxed uncompressed state.

FIG. 9 is a detailed view of the folding device embodiment of FIG. 2.

FIG. 10 is a detailed view of another folding device embodiment of FIG. 2.

FIG. 11 is a detailed view of the folding device embodiment of FIG. 3.

FIG. 12 is a detailed view of another folding embodiment of FIG. 3.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

FIG. 1 refers to a folding device 10, in accordance with the principles of the present invention, for rolling up sleeping bags, or self-inflating sleeping pads, or airbeds, or flexible exercise mats, or flexible sleeping mats, or bed covers, or other similar beddings, and or the like, as fabricated from a single piece of rod, pipe or strip-like material or other suitable material member 11. The rigid frame-like folding device 10 may be rectangular or oblong in shape. The shorter sides of the frame-like device 10 should be of sufficient dimensions to allow the thickness-wise insertion of the short end of the sleeping bag or the like to be rolled up, and of adequate size to function as handles for gripping when using the folding device 10. The longer sides of the frame-like device 10 should be of significant dimensions to allow the widthwise insertion of the sleeping bag or the like into the enclosed opening space parallel to the two longer sides. Preferably member 11 is of lightweight, rigid tubular stock such as schedule 40 PVC plastic pipes, or metal rods, but may be any material of suitable strength and rigidity. When fabricated from plastics as a one piece unit, the folding device 10 may be heat formed. When fabricated from metals as a one piece unit, the folding device 10 may be pressed into the desired shape.

FIG. 2 refers to a folding device 10, in accordance with the principles of the present invention, as formed from two pieces of rod, pipe or strip-like material or other suitable material members 12 and 13. The members 12 and 13 are fabricated as joinable and detachable “male” and “female” parts. When members 12 and 13 are inserted or mated together, collectively they form the rigid frame-like folding device 10. In FIG. 2 the member 12 and member 13 are described as two unequal lengths of “U” shaped, “male” and “female” joinable and detachable members. Although not illustrated, the members 12 and 13 may also be equal lengths of male and female parts; when joined together collectively constituting the desired shape and dimensions of device 10. The rigid frame-like device 10 may be rectangular or oblong in shape. The shorter and longer sides of device 10 are of suitable dimensions and functionalities as described in the above previous discussions. Preferably the members 12 and 13 are of lightweight, rigid tubular stock such as schedule 40 PVC plastic pipes, or metal tubing, but may be any materials of suitable strength and rigidity.

FIG. 3 refers to a folding device 10, in accordance with the principles of the present invention, constructed from four pieces of formed rod, pipe or strip-like material or other suitable material members 14, 15, 16 and 17. The members 14, 15, 16 and 17 are fabricated as joinable and detachable “male” and “female” parts. The members 14, 15, 16 and 17 may be of different sizes and shapes, however when inserted into each other or mated together, collectively they form the rigid frame-like folding device 10. The device 10 may be rectangular or oblong in shape. The shorter and longer sides of the frame-like device 10 are of suitable dimensions and functionalities as described in the above discussions. Preferably the members 14, 15, 16 and 17 are of lightweight, rigid tubular stock such as schedule 40 PVC plastic pipes, or metal tubing, but may be any materials of suitable strength and rigidity.

As apparent for those skilled in the art, although not specifically illustrated, the folding device 10 in accordance with the principles of the present invention may consists of a plurality of joinable and detachable “male” and “female” parts. The male and female members, when joined together, collectively would form the rigid frame-like folding device 10.

Referring now to FIG. 4, to use the rigid frame-like folding device 10, a sleeping bag, or self-inflating pad, or airbed, or flexible foam mat, or bed cover, or other similar bedding, or the like 20 is first inserted widthwise into the middle open space and positioned parallel to the two longer sides of the device 10. The end of the sleeping bag or the like 20 protrudes sufficiently out from the frame-like device 10 such that upon the first folding turn of device 10, the sleeping bag or the like 20 would be tightly clamped in place. The shorter sides of the frame-like folding device 10 would be gripped and turned to advance the rolling up process.

FIG. 5 illustrates a sleeping bag, or self-inflating sleeping pad, or airbed, or flexible exercise mat, or flexible sleeping mat, or bed cover, or other similar bedding, and or the like 20 tightly rolled up and secured in place. As shown, the folding device 10 remains embedded within the roll. When device 10 is constructed from a one-piece formed material, device 10 must be left embedded in the tightly secured roll. Leaving it embedded is not a disadvantage in using this present invention since the folding device 10 is light weight and takes up very little space. When the folding device 10 is constructed from multiple pieces of joinable and detachable members as illustrated in FIGS. 2 and 3, it has the added option of either left within or extracted from the secured roll. The device 10 may be extracted from the secured tight roll as shown in FIG. 6. If left in place, the exposed portion of device 10 may also serve as a handle for carrying the secured roll during transport.

Now referring to FIG. 7, the folding device 10 is shown with an attached hook-like member 18 affixed to the center of one of the longer side of the frame-like construction. With this additional member 18, the folding device 10 can be used as a hanger for sleeping bags and the like that require long-term storage in the uncompressed state. The hook-like member 18 may be a looped strap of flexible material affixed to the folding device 10. The member 18 may also be a stiff hook, attached and removed from device 10 according to use.

FIG. 8 describes the method that the folding device 10 with an attached hook-like member 18 now doubles as a hanger for a sleeping bag or the like 20 that requires long-term storage in the uncompressed state. Specifically FIG. 8 refers to the long term storage of a “mummy” bag or other high tech bags and the like that should be stored in a relaxed state.

FIG. 9 is a detailed view of the folding device 10 initially described in FIG. 2. The folding device 10 is formed from two “U” shaped pieces of tubular material members 12 and 13. Other similar shapes can be used. Preferably the members 12 and 13 are of lightweight, rigid tubular stock such as schedule 40 PVC plastic pipes, or metal tubing, or light weight composite material tubing, but may be any materials of suitable strength and rigidity. The members 12 and 13 are fabricated as joinable and detachable “male” and “female” parts. Specifically, the longer “U” shaped member 12 is formed with two expanded “bell shaped” members 30 on the ends of member 12. The “bell” shape end 30 has an inside diameter of slightly larger dimension as the outside diameter of the “U” shape member 13. When inserted together, a snug fit is formed between the mated members 12 and 13 as to constitute the folding device 10. When members 12 and 13 are pulled apart, due to the “bell shaped” ends 30, member 12 can be easily extracted through the folded bedroll. Although FIG. 9 shows a locking means to secure members 12 and 13 in place once they are mated; the use of a locking means to secure members 12 and 13 is optional. Furthermore, other locking mechanisms could be employed in combination with the present invention. Specifically shown in FIG. 9 is a pin locking means. Member 13 can be constructed with an embedded spring loaded pin 40 at one end. Member 12 can be formed with a hole 50 on the “bell shaped” end 30. When members 12 and 13 are mated together, pin 40 protrudes from hole 50 locking the members 12 and 13 in place. This locking means would provide additional rigidity to the folding device 10; thus preventing it from twisting or coming apart when force is applied during the folding process. With the pin locking means, it also allows the quick release of the mated “male” and “female” members for the extraction of the folding device 10 from the rolled up bedroll.

FIG. 10 is a detailed view of another embodiment of the folding device 10 initially described in FIG. 2. The folding device 10 is formed from two identical “hook shaped” pieces of tubular material members 12 and 13. Other similar shapes can be used. Preferably the members 12 and 13 are of lightweight, rigid tubular stock such as schedule 40 PVC plastic pipes, or metal tubing, or light weight composite material tubing, but may be any materials of suitable strength and rigidity. The members 12 and 13 are fabricated as joinable and detachable “male” and “female” parts. Specifically, both the “hook” shape members 12 and 13 are formed with an expanded “bell shaped” member 30 on one end. The “bell” shape end 30 has an inside diameter of the same dimension as the outside diameter of the straight ends of member 12 and 13. When the “bell” shape end and the straight end of members 12 and 13 are inserted together, a snug fit is formed between the mated members 12 and 13 as to constitute the folding device 10. When members 12 and 13 are pulled apart, due to the “straight” ends 30, member 12 and 13 can be easily extracted through the folded bed roll. Although FIG. 10 shows a locking means to secure members 12 and 13 in place once they are mated; the use of a locking means to secure members 12 and 13 is optional. Furthermore, other locking mechanisms could be employed in combination with the present invention. Specifically shown in FIG. 10 is a pin locking means. Member 13 can be constructed with a spring loaded pin 40 at the “straight” end. Member 12 can be formed with a hole 50 on the “bell” shape end 30. When members 12 and 13 are mated together, pin 40 protrudes from hole 50 locking the members 12 and 13 in place. This locking means would provide additional rigidity to the folding device 10; thus preventing it from twisting or coming apart when force is applied during the folding process. With the pin locking means, it also allows the quick release of the mated “male” and “female” members for the extraction of the folding device 10 from the rolled up bedroll.

FIG. 11 is a detailed view of the embodiment of the folding device 10 initially described in FIG. 3. The folding device 10 is formed from four pieces of tubular material members 14, 15, 16 and 17. Preferably the members 14, 15, 16 and 17 are of lightweight, rigid tubular stock such as schedule 40 PVC plastic pipes, or metal tubing, or light weight composite material tubing, but may be any materials of suitable strength and rigidity. The members 14 and 15 are identically straight tubular members. The inside diameters of members 14 and 15 are slightly larger than the outside diameter of a long “U” shaped tubular member 16. Other similar shapes can be used. The member 16 is inserted into both ends of members 14 and 15. In combination, members 14, 15 and 16 form a telescoping expandable “U” shape tubular member. This telescoping feature allows the folding device 10 to be adjusted to any width of the bed roll to be folded. Described in FIG. 11 is a locking means to secure the telescoping expandable “U” shape member in a desired fixed position. Specifically the locking means to secure the telescoping “U” shape member is a spring pin 40 and hole 50 locking system commonly used in commercial extension poles. Holes 50 are formed on members 14 and 15. The pin-locks 40 are secured on the straight ends of member 16. A shorter “U” shaped tubular member 17 is formed with straight ends. Preferably member 17 is of the same tubular stock as member 16. The outside diameter of member 17 is slightly small than the inside diameter of members 14 and 15. When the ends of member 17 are inserted into the open ends of members 14 and 15, a snug fit is formed between the mated members. In combination, the four members 14, 15, 16 and 17 form the folding device 10. Although FIG. 11 shows a locking means to secure members 17, 14 and 15 in place once they are mated; the use of a locking means to secure members 17, 14 and 15 is optional. Furthermore, other locking mechanisms could be employed in combination with the present invention. Specifically shown in FIG. 11 is a pin locking means. When members 17, 14 and 15 are mated together, pin 40 protrudes from member 17 into hole 50 located on member 14, locking the members 17, 14 and 15 in place. This locking means would provide additional rigidity to the folding device 10; thus preventing it from twisting or coming apart when force is applied during the folding process. With the pin locking means, it also allows quick release of the mated “male” and “female” members for extracting the folding device 10 from the rolled up bedroll.

FIG. 12 is a detailed view of another embodiment of the folding device 10 initially described in FIG. 3. The salient features of constructions and functions of members 14, 15, 16 and 17 are the same as described in the above paragraph. The only difference of FIG. 11 and FIG. 12 is in the locking means to secure the telescoping expandable “U” shape member in a desired fixed position. Beside “U” shape, other similar shapes can be used. Specifically a twist-lock member 60 is used in place of the pin-lock system described in FIG. 11. This twist-lock 60 mechanism is commonly used in commercial extension poles.

While the present invention has been described and illustrated in its preferred embodiments by way of example, it will be apparent to those skilled in the art that certain changes and improvements may be made therein without deviating from the scope and spirit of the invention as described in the appended claims.